My apologies for any frustration you might have experienced yesterday when you tried to watch the “Negative Thoughts” video I sent in my blog. (My learning curve on these techie things is quite steep!)
Someone emailed me recently wanting to know how to overcome their fears.
Wow! That’s just the kind of question I love–because I’ve spent a lifetime trying to conquer my own fears, and I’ve found many helpful strategies and solutions.
First, you’ll need to get honest about current habits that may be contributing to your fears and negativity. Overindulging in spending, eating, partying, mind-altering substances, or unhealthy relationships causes fear, shame, depression, and negativity. Get help to overcome your energy-draining choices so you can make better ones.
Now that you’re ready to change your reactions to the people and situations around you, know this ONE THING: You can choose whether to be positive & courageous OR negative & afraid. It will take awareness & practice. But you CAN do it.
Both my own experience and scientific research support each of these strategies for overcoming fear, anxiety, and worry.
GRATITUDE. Want what you already have. Appreciate what’s already in your life rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Cultivate gratitude for the simple things (eyesight, shelter, friends, etc.) and stop to appreciate beauty, music, nature. Do this often.
COMPASSION. Avoid judging others. Be a strength-finder rather than a fault-finder. When you judge another negatively, stop yourself and then realize the person may have something going on that you don’t know about. Look beyond their behavior or appearance and focus on the goodness inside of them — in their best self.
SELF-JUDGEMENT. Avoid judging yourself negatively. Instead, cultivate self-compassion. When things are tough, give yourself a break. Don’t beat yourself up for not handling things better. Talk to yourself like you would a dear little sister or brother — with patience & gentleness. That said, don’t linger in self-pity. (For more on this topic, I recommend Kristin Neff’s book & meditationson self-compassion)
KINDNESS. Do something to brighten someone’s day. Smile, ask how they are, listen attentively, or let them go ahead of you in line. When you contribute to someone else’s well-being, you escape your self-centered worry. Try helping out a neighbor or friend. It’s a sure way to lift your spirits (as long as you’re not trying to change them; but that’s a whole different blog!).
INTERPERSONAL DRAMA. Avoid Gossip. Limit or cut off contact with people who drag you down. Hang with positive people who are growing and succeeding in life. Don’t try to overcome your fear alone. When you do have a conflict, do not try to resolve it via text or email; meet face-to-face after you’ve taken a day or two to simmer down.
USE THESE FEAR-BUSTERS DAILY. Meditate, get enough sleep, walk regularly, and offer as many smiles and acts of kindness to others as you can. Keep up your gratitude practice, and replace critical thoughts with loving ones. Soon, you’ll be amazed by how happy you are!
Take GOOD care of yourself. You’re the only one who CAN.
“Langer’s frank and empathetic tone will comfort readers, as will the practical steps she teaches.” (Featured Book, BookLife by Publishers Weekly) “Her honesty will blow you away! It is beautifully written; filled with humor and authenticity.” (Member of Al Anon)
Recently, someone asked me to name 7 negative things we do everyday that block happiness, with suggestions for what to do instead.
That’s a “Pretty Good Question!” I thought. “I’ll give it a try!” Here’s my list of seven.
What would you add?Write your ideas in the “Comments” section at the end.
7 THINGS THAT BLOCK HAPPINESS AND HOW TO CHANGE THEM
1 Saying ”I can’t . . ” Change it to “Up until now I couldn’t . . ”
2 Saying “I always . . ” Change it to “In the past I’ve . . “ or “I used to . . ”
3 Reading email and texts first thing in the morning. Instead, meditate, read inspiring words, journal, or pray, (like Kermit & I do!)
4 Criticizing or Gossiping. Instead, look for what’s strong, positive, and good about a person or situation. Avoid complainers.
5 Saying, “You should . .” or “He should (or ought to) . . ” Instead, admit that you may not know best and, even if you did, it’s not your job to change others.
6 Drinking or drugging in a way that’s harming your relationships, health, or safety. Instead, get into a recovery program or therapy.
7 Thinking about what you’ll say next while “listening” to another. Then responding with your own story or advice. Instead, listen with all of your mind & heart. Try to understand what the person is saying by asking for clarification, e.g., “You mentioned (…). Tell me more about that. What was that like for you?” Listen to the answer and then probe for more detail. Talk less. Listen more. Ask more questions.
OKAY, IT’S YOUR TURN. In the Comments section below, list the bad habit that blocks your own happiness. Be sure to add the “instead” behavior. We really need your suggestions!
I can’t wait to see what you post!!
Gigi Langer holds an MA in Psychology and PhD in Psychological Studies in Education, both from Stanford.